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Lecture on Masculinity in India

Jun 30, 2015

On July 1, Prof. Sanjay Srivastava (JNU, New Delhi) gave a lecture on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's representation of masculinity. Prof. Susan Brownell (University of Missouri-St. Louis) chaired the subsequent discussion. The lecture took place at 6 pm at the Karl Jaspers Centre. It was organised by Research Area B "Public Spheres" and the HERA Single project.

In his lecture titled "From the Five Year Plan Hero to Mr. Modi's Masculinity: Notes on Modernity, Consumer Cultures and 'Tradition' in India", Srivastava analysed male stereotypes which were used to stage Modi during his election campaign in 2014. Srivastava stressed that the media discourse - both in independent journalism and advertisements - articulated a gendered focus on a significant aspect of Narendra Modi’s public representation relating to his 'forceful' masculinity. Srivastava drew multiple conclusions from placing Modi’s public representation in the broader historical context of India’s traditionally patriarchal culture.

Modi's election campaign, as Prof. Srivastava argued, portrayed the Indian Prime Minister as the prototypical male leader: efficient, dynamic, potent, and capable of removing all policy-roadblocks through sheer force and personality. Srivastava made the point that this 'Modi-masculinity' reformulates older versions of Indian masculinist discourse in a time of consumerist modernity. Srivastava suggested that ‘Modi-masculinity’ stands at the juncture of new consumerist aspirations, the politics of ‘Indian traditions’ and gender, and the re-fashioning of masculine identities. It seeks to localise the notion of 'neo-liberalism' through exploring its gendered dimensions and positing three specific analytical contexts, namely 'post-nationalism', 'moral consumption' and 'surplus consumption'.

Prof. Sanjay Srivastava holds the chair of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He mainly conducts research on urban and globalised culture, social theory, masculinity and gender, as well as consumerism. He has published numerous books on these topics.

The lecture "From the Five Year Plan Hero to Mr. Modi's Masculinity: Notes on Modernity, Consumer Cultures and 'Tradition' in India" was organised by the Cluster's Research Area B "Public Spheres" and the HERA SINGLE project, which investigates the living conditions of single women in the context of neo-liberal urbanisation in India and China.


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  • Sanjay Srivastava during his lecture

  • Chair Susan Brownell

  • Christiane Brosius introducing the speaker (pictures by Cathrine Bublatzky)